5 Ways To Get Started With Your Freelance Makeup & Hair Career
I think the question that I get asked more than anything is, “How do I break into freelancing?” Most people are not asking because they don’t know what to do; they are usually asking because they DO know what to do, but have anxiety and insecurity as to whether they BELIEVE that they can do it. However, if you are one of those people who truly does not know how to start in the world of freelancing, here are 5 small things you can do to get you on your way.
 Create legitimate business cards: If you are trying to work with established people, as a general rule, you can expect that they will ONLY want to work with other established people. Let’s face it, reputation is everything, and no one wants to risk their name by taking a chance on someone who does not present themselves as experienced and competent. The first impression that someone has of your business accumen is usually your business card. I’m going to be honest with you, I am not taking anyone walking around with free Vistaprint business cards seriously. I avoid “those people” and their cheap cards like the plaigue…
… Yes, I’m judging you. What does it say to prospective clients and colleagues, that you can’t be bothered enough about the integrity of your appearance, to spend a few dollars on some nice, professional business cards? I assure you, no one is taking you or your 1000 free cards seriously; and rest assured that the bulk of the cards you hand out are ending up at the Waste Management facility, instead of in someone’s Rolodex. Get good cards. My friend, Yiselle, has a fabulous blog post about the “do’s and don’ts” of creating business cards, that you should acquaint yourself with.
 Create an internet presence: In this business, you are nobody until you are somebody. You can be as fierce as you want to be with a curling wand, but if I have no way of finding you, how will I ever know that? Anytime you meet with someone, or someone mentions your name for a job referral, you better believe that the person considering hiring you is actively trying to find you on the internet. If prospective clients can not Google your first and last name and find your body of work, then you do not exist…
… again, I stress, this is not the place to look cheap! Being that your website is likely going to be your client’s first impression of you, you had better make sure it wow’s them! Invest! Surprisingly, it does not cost much to run a website each month. I run THREE websites, all for $11/month (e-mail included!). I recommend investing in having an EXPERIENCED web developer build a site for you. I paid $100 for mine by outsourcing it to a web developer in the Philippines, whom I’d found using the freelancer site, Elance.com. I posted my budget, what I wanted created, and in 5 minutes I had 10 people in my inbox begging to build my website! Once the site is built, the only other cost you have is paying for a place to store it (i.e. a web host). I use a company called PolurNet.com, and I pay $11/mo. to host three websites with unlimited custom email addresses. There is no excuse as to why you should not have your e-life together. None.
 Learn Your Value: There is nothing that screams, “AMATEUR!” more than someone who does not know their worth. One of the first things you should do when deciding to enter the freelance world, is find out how much other artists in your area charge for what you do, and price yourself accordingly!
If other freelancers charge $200 to make a house call for makeup, there is no legitimate reason that you should peddling and whoring your services on Model Mayhem and Facebook for $60. Not only does it make you look cheap and amateur (and keep you in a cycle of low wages), it also hurts our industry as a whole. If clients feel that they can come to you for $60, then they are not going to be willing to pay the rest of us professionals what we deserve. By charging less than the market rate, you are not securing more business, you are just driving down income for yourself and everyone else. This is called undercutting, and undercutting will get you cut! In real life. If you are not confident enough, and don’t have the skill and portfolio to charge a market rate, then you are not ready to enter freelancing. You need to spend more time developing your craft, confidence, business skills, and portfolio.
 Save a king’s ransom worth of money: I am not even going to sit here and lie to you. When you begin freelancing, your bank account will likely look like a black hole from Hell. Not only are you now faced with the challenges of finding your OWN work, but you also have to adjust to the fact that most large jobs pay on invoice; meaning you may work on July 16th, but you likely won’t receive a penny of that money until October 7th! It can be a tough transition, ESPECIALLY if you come from the corporate world of guaranteed checks on a regular schedule. Believe me, I still have days where I log into my online banking account and I’m like…
You learn to get used to it… and with time, finances do get better. It’s best you do yourself a favor, however, and have a financial cushion before you cut all ties with stability. And even after you do start making steady money, make sure you are saving as much of your checks as you can! Because you never know when that 30 day invoice will turn into a 180 day past-due collection item… and rent is due in three days… and you contract the flu… and your kit gets stolen on the subway (because you know bad things just LOVE happen all at once)!
 Prepare yourself for rejection: The only way you are going to advance in this field of work is through rejection, unfortunately. Nothing is ever handed to you, so it is up to you to find your own opportunities, and to convince people to hire you! A lot of times, that means making cold calls, dropping off your portfolio for review, and begging agencies to let you take an overflow job or assist. Listen, folks. It’s not easy. Not everyone you encounter will be particularly interested in your feelings. When I first started freelancing and moved to New York City, I was not ready. I honestly wasn’t. I imagined that people would be so moved and impressed by my work that I would hit the ground running! Yeah, ummm… about that. Let me tell you how my first agency meeting went…
ME: Good morning! I’m very excited to show you my portfolio. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with my talent!
:::hands agent my portfolio:::
… as she handed me my portfolio and my wounded pride and told me to come back in two years… maybe three. But you know what? I survived! And I’m a stronger person and artist because of it. A “no” is not always a “NO.” Sometimes a “no” is just a “not right now.” If you’re not ready, it’s better to know that, so that you can begin improving yourself; rather than to duck all ambitions out of fear of rejection, and never progress and grow. Take a chance on yourself and beat down everyone’s door. You can’t improve if you never take the time to find out what is wrong.
BONUS: Realize when you just are not cut out for the life! We can’t all be starving artists, and we can’t all be talented at doing hair or makeup. There are so many other ways to fulfill a career in the beauty industry. You can be a successful beauty blogger, like my internet friend Danielle at The Style and Beauty Doctor… or you can be a powerful Beauty Public Relations Executive… or an innovative Product Developer. There are so many paths to take in this field that are less taxing, but just as rewarding. Dig deep before you take the plunge!
If you have any other tips you’d like to share, leave them in the comments!
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